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Cameroon's Opposition Party Calls for Annulment of Sunday's Vote - 2002-07-01


Cameroon's main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, is calling on the government to annul the results of Sunday's legislative and municipal elections. Party leaders allege there was massive fraud in the poll, which was the first legislative election to be held in the Central African nation in five years.

Officials of the government of Cameroon on Monday said the elections were carried out in an open manner. The poll was originally due to be held on June 23, but was postponed by a week at the last minute, when President Paul Biya learned that the government had failed to print ballot cards on time.

When elections were finally held on Sunday, observers said all materials appeared to have been delivered in a timely manner, and most polling stations opened as scheduled.

The main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF) however, says one week was not enough time to correct what it says were other problems regarding the distribution of voter registration cards.

The SDF, which is regarded as the party of Cameroon's English-speaking minority, says the names of many Anglophone voters were missing from the lists. The party accuses longtime President Paul Biya of maneuvering to expand his party's control of the parliament by not giving election officials more than a week to sort out remaining problems.

SDF President John Fru Ndi has repeatedly called for Mr. Biya, who has been in power for 20 years, to resign. Mr. Fru Ndi says his party is demanding new elections. "We are calling on them to cancel the election [results], whether the SDF wins or not," he said. "The elections should be annulled. We want the elections to be conducted in a transparent way, in a way that will give some dignity and credence to the people."

Cameroon, a nation of 15 million people and more than 250 ethnic groups, has historically been divided along the lines of language. English-speakers, who make up about 20 percent of the population, complain that Francophones have long excluded them from key positions of power.

Voters on Sunday chose 180 members of parliament and local councils for more than 300 towns and cities.